Goodness – the Medium to Perfection

From May I Answer That, Swami Sivananda Saraswati

What standards should be adopted to measure true greatness?

The true greatness of man is to be measured not by the amount of wealth nor by the number of bungalows which are had or by the exercise of personal influence, but by the degree of selflessness, all-embracing outlook, generosity, liberal views, cosmic benefaction, self-sacrifice, egoless, self-effacing nature, grade of perception of unity in diversity, humanitarian services, etc. A truly great man is pious, spiritually elevated, magnanimous and noble-hearted. He can never have a thought for himself and he ever prefers the welfare of humanity casting aside all petty, selfish and personal interests. He ever prays for the welfare of humanity. Where there is an open, un-constricted, expansive and large heart, there lies true greatness.

Who is a righteous man?

A righteous man is he who is pure in thought, word and deed and who observes yama and niyama to the very letter. He never moves astray for the sake of paltry gains and selfish ends. He is ever pious, God-fearing, self-centred and selfless. He has cosmic vision and a broad outlook. He is equanimous and tolerant towards all. He is a mine of all virtues like charity, nobility, sincerity, humility, renunciation, serenity, simplicity and so on. No egoism, no lust, no greed, no crooked mindedness, no vanity can find a place in him. The righteous man is ever the object of adoration of all. There will be no enemies to him at all, for he loves all friends and foes equally.

My experience has made me conclude that goodness does not always pay in our dealings with people. Then what is the use of being good and doing good when goodness is not recognized and properly rewarded? Please illumine.

Whether goodness pays you well or not from the material standpoint, do good and be good always. No doubt the worldly-minded generally take advantage of such people as ideal gullibles to carry their wishes through and even to deceive. It matters nothing, for the Lord is always on the side of the good and the righteous who stick to dharma and who rely on Him. No man is to be considered good without the virtue of piety or God-fearing nature. Goodness and piety go together. The good man is always the spiritually-inclined, though he is in the world. He is unlike the vyavaharic purusha, the practical person. To be good is to increase the purity and devotion unto the Lord in abundant measure. To do good is to reap good in return. If a good action is done, a sweet fruit in favour of you arises with the result that you enjoy it whether you want it or not. If a bad action is done, the consequent fruit of action liable to be enjoyed willingly or unwillingly will be bitter and against you.

Whether goodness is recognized or not, do good and be good throughout life. This alone pays you well to attain chitta shuddhi and knowledge of the Self. Only those who have no knowledge of the Self, i.e. the worldly-inclined, do not recognize good as a medium of perfection through gradual evolution. Not so is the case with the spiritual-minded, for they know full well that to do good and to be good help them gain the goal of life, viz. God-realization.

Remember that the Lord does recognize and reward always the good people and good actions. He actually lives and moves in them. The good man actually feels the Lord's presence in himself and around without a vestige of doubt. It is a mockery for a man to consider himself good without being able to be conscious of God's presence in him, with him and around him. Do not question the benefit of being good and doing good when goodness is not recognized or properly rewarded, for to work alone man has the right and not to the fruits good or bad thereof.